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The Republican speaker of the house, John Boehner said yesterday that, "Job creators in America are essentially on strike."  Boehner is right about that.  The people who create jobs aren't creating jobs out of fear.  However, Boehner gets everything else wrong.  He's wrong about who the job creators are and he's wrong about what is making them scared.

First of all, let's get something straight.  Businesses and wealthy individuals don't create jobs just by virtue of having a lot of income.  Give a corporation an extra million dollars and it'll say "thank you very much" and then hand it back out in dividends or stock buy-backs.  It isn't going to use that money to hire workers unless it thinks it can make money off of those workers.  If they just hired workers for no other reason than they had the money, they wouldn't be very good at business, now would they?

So who are the job creators?  You are. The American consumer is.  Every time you go to the store and buy something, you are helping to create a job.  You're supporting the salary of the people who work at the store, you're supporting the truck driver or train conductor that brought it to the store, and you're supporting the factory worker who made the item(assuming it wasn't made in China, of course).  The store owner and factory owner didn't "create" those jobs, you did.  When you walked into that store and declared that you had a need and was willing to pay money for it, you gave someone a job for the day.  When several of us do that, we give some person a job for a year.  When a corporation hires a worker, they hire that person to fill the needs of a consumer.  The corporation doesn't create the job, they recognize that a job is open via consumer demand and try to fill it.  If they don't fill it, somebody else will.  When consumers are willing to spend money, somebody is going to show up and take it.  Whether that person that fills the need is just some Joe who's trying to make a buck, or a giant corporation that hires a worker to fill the consumer's need, the job starts with people willing to spend money.

The job creators, i.e. the American consumer, is on a partial strike of sorts.  Either we have no job, which means we can't spend money.  Or, we're afraid we're going to lose our jobs and are saving money for a rainy day.  The savings rate of Americans continues to rise, now up to 5.8%.  Don't get me wrong, saving is good when being done to meet a future goal.  However, saving out of fear of losing your job means hoarding money and it being used unproductively.

This observation isn't anything new or groundbreaking.  The world at one time, did think of employment in the way Boehner does now.  However, 80 some years the world discovered it was the opposite, effective demand creates supply.  For some reason though, the world's understanding of economics has regressed in thinking and has gone back to believing that supply creates demand.

So why do we let conservatives get away with labeling large corporations and wealthy individuals as "job creators".  With high unemployment, messages like "don't raise taxes on 'job creators'" is going to resonate with voters.  Conservatives win that argument because they've already framed corporations and wealthy individuals as the job creators.  We have to reframe the issue to win.  Who you cast as the 'job creator' dictates how you respond in a recession.  If you think big business creates jobs, you lower their taxes and let them pillage and plunder the environment and workers so they can create more jobs.  If you realize that American consumers are the real job creators, then you'll realize that lowering their wages and making them work longer hours, in more dangerous conditions, you'll make things even worse.

I hate to go all George Lakoff when I normally write about economics and the federal budget, but I have to admit "job creators" is brilliant framing by conservatives.  In terms of dispassionate debate, Progressives are responding well to debunking the myth that tax cuts for corps will create jobs.  Mark Shields:

That would be as in House Speaker John Boehner's committing to "end the uncertainty plaguing job creators." And how do we do that? Boehner's answer: by "ending the threat of tax hikes." The front-runner among likely candidates for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, stated, after President Obama recently urged ending the Bush-era tax-cuts on those earning over $250,000 a year, that, "The last thing we should be doing is raising taxes on the job creators ..."

Of course, that is exactly what the only Democrat since Franklin Roosevelt to win a second White House term, Bill Clinton, did in 1993. Without a single Republican supporting him in either the House or the Senate, Clinton raised the income tax rate to 39.6 percent for the most prosperous, the top 1.4 percent of Americans. We were told by the leading Republican crepe-hanger of that era, former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, that "(President Clinton's) tax bill is a one-way ticket to a recession."

Also see Jon Purr at CrooksAndLiars:

As Ezra Klein, Paul Krugman and Steve Benen among others noted, the "Plan for America's Job Creators" is simply a repackaging of years of previous proposals and GOP bromides. (As Klein pointed out, the 10 page document "looks like the staffer in charge forgot the assignment was due on Thursday rather than Friday, and so cranked the font up to 24 and began dumping clip art to pad out the plan.") At the center of it is the same plan from the Ryan House budget passed in April to cut the top individual and corporate tax rates to 25%.
If this all sounds hauntingly familiar, it should. When it comes to using the tax code to line the pockets of the wealthiest people in America, House Republicans simply want the next decade to look like the last one. That is, gargantuan tax cuts for America's so-called "job creators"; no jobs for Americans.

In terms of debate, they win.  In terms of convincing voters who are working harder than ever to keep their jobs, this isn't going to work.  We can't let conservatives get away with framing wealthy individuals and big corporations as the 'job creators'.  As Lakoff says, we can't just negate their framing, we have to change the framing.  

Demand for goods and services creates jobs, and that demand comes from well payed American laborers.  You are the real job creator.  I think recasting the job creators combines truth with proper reframing.

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Comment Preferences

  •  somewhat OT the pols are also on strike (0+ / 0-)

    Based on nothing except my amateur speculation I think the consensus is building in the corridors of international financial power that there will eventually be a biggish Krugmenian (if you will) infrastructure stimulus but the decision has been made that under no circumstances will it be allowed to happen in Obama's first term.

    My CT goes like this: The banker group think is, once Romney gets in, they can allow the Fed to print some money and rebuild some bridges and hire some people but without in anyway threatening their oil / coal businesses and they'll get to break some unions in the process. They don't mind the Fed printing money, they just don't want to pay any taxes to make it up and they want the jobs created to be as low wage as possible. Then the economy comes back, with wages permanently devalued, but the Republican austerity guy gets the credit for fixing the "Obama recession" caused by Obama brutally murdering the confidence fairies with rhetoric.

    Sorry to ramble but felt like typing.

    If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

    by jgnyc on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 09:43:08 AM PDT

    •  Once you have wealth, the last thing you (0+ / 0-)

      want is it devalued by others having it too.  So no or little taxes, and low wages for workers.  Cut education, cut pensions, cut government programs... anything that helps level the field.

  •  Boehner is capable of thought? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Who knew?

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 09:43:44 AM PDT

  •  Framing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Giving tax breaks to "job creators" sounds a lot better than giving tax breaks to "the wealthy."

    The GOP is very well practiced at repeating its memes until they sink into the American political discourse, facts be damned.  Think of "waste, fraud and abuse" or "tax and spend Democrats running up enormous deficits" or "Democrats are wimps, soft on crime/communists/national security."  All of them resonate and they all still work in the GOP's favor even today.

    "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove." P.G. Wodehouse

    by gsbadj on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 11:56:51 AM PDT

  •  Biggest problem is tax policies (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that conflict with world trade.

    Most every other industrialized country apply most or all of their tax burden on imports and removes it on their exports.

    Foolishly, the US does this backwards -- so jobs, wages, taxes, economic growth and our trade balances are all depressed. The US has the full tax burden on domestic goods for the domestic market - which then competes with untaxed (by the US or the other country) imports.  When we export, our goods are fully taxed in the US and the other country.

    Other high wage, big government, free market & environmentally conscious countries do just fine with their jobs, wages and trade balances with low or no government deficit - Even countries that need to import most all of their oil have positive trade balances such as Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, South Korea, Taiwan, Israel, Finland, etc.  

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 01:09:27 PM PDT

  •  You forgot the missing link... (0+ / 0-)

    It is right there between your second and third paragraphs;  right there between "hand it back out in dividends or stock buy-backs" and "So who are the job creators?  You are. The American consumer is".

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